Somehow we started talking about expectations.
It started off playful, of course, with silly name-calling and ridiculous accusations that neither of us really meant. I don’t remember how we got to it, but things turned serious and he said you’ve met all my expectations so far so of course I asked him what were they?
His answer came after a short, weighted pause, and surprised me in being less a list of expectations, but a list of characteristics that described me. I didn’t buy it at first. No one perfectly meets every expectation on someone’s list! I could name you three things immediately why he’s not my girlhood image of Mr. Perfect.
Were those actually your expectations? I challenged him. Or are you just listing things you like about me?
Another weighty pause. These were all the things that I was disappointed by in my past girlfriends. You’ve been great at those, plus more.
Still, I was skeptical, and I told him so.
He responds with a laugh. I have high expectations, but I don’t know what they are until they are disappointed.
That’s true. There’s many things I didn’t realize I valued until a friendship failed because of it, and many things that I thought I valued that turned out not mattering at all. And the same set of expectations don’t apply to all people. So it’s both gratifying that I’ve been living up to expectations, but also scary knowing there’s definite ways I can disappoint, since neither of us can define them yet. As my mother has always told me, it’s the little things that no one expects to ruin a relationship that ultimately breaks it.
With him, though, I’m interested in seeing if I do disappoint him, how we will work it out.
I like that. I like that for us, I’m looking forward to conflicts, even as I hope they’ll never happen. One thing my roommate has taught me to appreciate through her difficult relationship: how two people resolve a conflict is an essential indicator of how well they are together. So here’s to all the couples out there — may your conflicts teach you more about how you can be together than why you should be apart.